A district judge in Oregon has ruled that Secular Humanism can be considered a religion when deciding if Secular Humanist organizations should enjoy the same rights and privileges as churches:
On Thursday, October 30, Senior District Judge Ancer Haggerty issued a ruling on American Humanist Association v. United States, a case that was brought by the American Humanist Association (AHA) and Jason Holden, a federal prisoner. Holden pushed for the lawsuit because he wanted Humanism — which the AHA defines as “an ethical and life-affirming philosophy free of belief in any gods and other supernatural forces” — recognized as a religion so that his prison would allow for the creation of a Humanist study group. Haggerty sided with the plaintiffs in his decision, citing existing legal precedent and arguing that denying Humanists the same rights as groups such as Christianity would be a violation of the Establishment Clause in the U.S. Constitution, which declares that Congress “shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”
This is a sensible legal victory that wouldn’t even be necessary if Christians weren’t so eat up with acquiring special privilege while simultaneously bemoaning how persecuted they are. We shouldn’t have to get our beliefs about the non-existence of god classified as a religion in order to enjoy the same rights as our religious neighbors. As many of you have likely guessed, calling ourselves a religion, even for acquiring equal rights, really rubs me the wrong way as I loathe religion (as much as I love fair treatment, so I was a little torn initially).
Fortunately, Judge Haggerty included a caveat that we are going to get to repeat over and over and over again as religious people whine that they
had stars first all atheists now want to be religious (rather than just wanting all the same rights and privileges that religious people enjoy without the silly beliefs about people rising from the dead):
“The court finds that Secular Humanism is a religion for Establishment Clause purposes,” the ruling read.
For the purposes of deciding issues of equality, Secular Humanism is a religion. And that’s where it ends.
Many kudos to the AHA. I’m certain this win in particular was the product of massive amounts of work and wit.